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DeSouza v. Taiman

United States District Court, D. Connecticut

August 10, 2017

HAILEE R. DeSOUZA, Plaintiff,
v.
EDWARD TAIMAN, Defendant.

          RULING ON MOTION TO DISMISS

          Michael P. Shea, U.S.D.J.

         Plaintiff Hailee DeSouza, pro se, sues Defendant Edward Taiman, Mr. DeSouza's former attorney, based on allegations arising from a state court eviction action in which Mr. Taiman represented Mr. DeSouza against a landlord seeking to evict him. In his seven-count First Amended Complaint (“Compl.”), Mr. DeSouza alleges that, motivated by racial animus, Mr. Taiman conspired with the landlord's counsel and court officials to violate Mr. DeSouza's constitutional and statutory rights. (ECF No. 35.) Specifically, Mr. DeSouza's First Amended Complaint alleges (i) interfering, coercing or intimidating Mr. DeSouza regarding his housing rights in violation of 42 U.S.C. § 3617 (count one), (ii) violations of Mr. DeSouza's First, Fourth, Fifth, Sixth, Eighth, and Fourteenth Amendment rights under 42 U.S.C. § 1983 (count two), (iii) conspiring to interfere with Mr. DeSouza's civil rights in violation of 42 U.S.C. § 1985(2) and (3) (count three), (iv) denying Mr. DeSouza equal protection under the law in violation of 42 U.S.C. § 1981 (count four), (v) interfering with Mr. DeSouza's rights under the Fair Housing Act, 42 U.S.C. § 3631 et. seq. (count five), (vi) conspiring to violate Mr. DeSouza's constitutional rights under 18 U.S.C. § 241 (count six), and (vii) depriving Mr. DeSouza of constitutional rights under color of law in violation of 18 U.S.C. § 242 (count seven).

         Mr. Taiman moves to dismiss Mr. DeSouza's complaint under Rules 12(b)(1) and 12(b)(6) of the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure. For the reasons stated below, the Court GRANTS Mr. Taiman's motion to dismiss all counts because Mr. DeSouza fails to allege facts that plead federal claims.

         I. FACTUAL BACKGROUND

         Mr. DeSouza is a resident of Park West Apartments located in Vernon, Connecticut. (Compl. at 2.) Mr. DeSouza retained Mr. Taiman as his attorney when Mr. DeSouza's landlord sued him for eviction on June 14, 2014. (Id. at 3.) Mr. DeSouza alleges that shortly after being retained, Mr. Taiman suggested that Mr. DeSouza “move out” of his apartment at the end of his lease. (Id. at 3.) Mr. DeSouza alleges that he instructed Mr. Taiman that he had done nothing wrong and that he wanted to take his case to trial against his landlord. (Id.) On August 29, 2014, during a scheduled court date at the Rockville-Vernon Courthouse, Mr. Taiman allegedly lied to him as part of a conspiracy with the landlord's counsel and a representative of the court to coerce Mr. DeSouza into signing a settlement agreement in his eviction case. (Id. at 3-7.) According to Mr. DeSouza, the conspiracy aimed to prevent him from appearing in front of a superior court judge, to intimidate him, and to hold him in the court employee's office until he agreed to a settlement. (Id. at 7.)

         Allegedly, on September 12, 2014, the agreement he was coerced into signing was used against him in court and, subsequently, Mr. Taiman allowed him to be called as a witness for Mr. DeSouza's landlord against his wishes. (Id. at 9.) Mr. DeSouza also alleges that Mr. Taiman's failure to demand a trial for Mr. DeSouza during the August 29 court appearance caused Mr. DeSouza to be terminated from his construction job because of “constant unlawful, nuisance harassment calls to Mr. DeSouza['s] employer.” (Id. at 11.)

         As a result of Mr. Taiman's actions, Mr. DeSouza claims he suffered damages, including extreme stress, anxiety, loss of sleep, stress disorder, emotional pain and distress, heartburn, ulcers, mental anguish, elevated heart rate, irregular heartbeat, and an increased need for treatment and medication. (Id. at 12.)

         II. PROCEDURAL HISTORY

         Mr. DeSouza filed his initial complaint on March 25, 2016 (ECF No. 1), and Mr. Taiman moved to dismiss on May 31, 2016. (ECF No. 17.) I granted Mr. Taiman's motion to dismiss on Rule 8 grounds, finding that the complaint did not contain “a short and plain statement of the grounds for the court's jurisdiction, ” or “a short and plain statement of the claim showing that the pleader is entitled to relief.” (ECF No. 30)(quoting Fed.R.Civ.P. 8(a)(1), (a)(2)). I granted Mr. DeSouza leave to file an amended complaint addressing deficiencies in his original complaint. (ECF No. 30.)

         Mr. DeSouza filed his First Amended Complaint on March 23, 2017[1] and Mr. Taiman filed the current motion to dismiss for lack of jurisdiction on April 19, 2017. (ECF No. 36.)

         III. LEGAL STANDARDS

         A. Rule 12(b)(1)

         A “case is properly dismissed for lack of subject matter jurisdiction under Rule 12(b)(1) when the district court lacks the statutory or constitutional power to adjudicate it.” Nike, Inc. v. Already, LLC, 663 F.3d 89, 94 (2d Cir. 2011). The party “asserting subject matter jurisdiction has the burden of proving by a preponderance of the evidence that it exists.” Luckkett v. Bure, 290 F.3d 493, 497 (2d. Cir. 2002). “In resolving a motion to dismiss for lack of subject matter jurisdiction under Rule 12(b)(1), a district court . . . may refer to evidence outside the pleadings.” Makarova v. United States, 201 F.3d 110, 113 (2d Cir. 2000). The court construes the complaint liberally and accepts all factual allegations as true. Ford v. D.C. 37 Union Local 1549, 579 F.3d 187, 188 (2d Cir. 2009).

         B. ...


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